The "What If" Thing
Posted by Jane on 21/1/2011, 3:43:08, in reply to "Re: Queen Adelaide?"
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: Had one of her daughters survived the personal
: union with Hanover would have ended. Britain
: would not have seen the Victorian era. I
: can't imagine how the second half of the
: 19th century and the first decade of the
: 20th century would have been if Victoria of
: Kent had not become Queen.
: Even if she had married Albert, their lives
: and that of their offspring would have been
: so different.
There are numerous ways to look at the situation and ask "what if" -- depending on the variable factors.
We can, for instance, accept as fixed the 1817 death in childbirth of Princess Charlotte of Wales -- which occasioned the trio of marriages for her junior uncles, the following year. Already it was clear that the British throne would pass collaterally, as opposed to laterally (since the Prince Regent had no other legitimate surviving child or grandchild).
In particular, the likelihood in 1818 was great that the succession would eventually pass to the Duke of Clarence -- since the Duke of York (like his older brother) was estranged from his wife and childless. Plus, this third son of King George III took better care of his health than his older brothers (in fact, York would predecease the future King George IV).
So the crown basically hinged upon William and Adelaide: all that had to do was produce one surviving child. As it was, they tried several times -- the first resulting in a daughter who lived for only a few hours (March 1819, a couple of months before Princess Victoria of Kent was born). A second daughter was born in December 1820 -- baptized as Elizabeth Georgina: she proved to be the longest-lived of her parents' children (surviving to the age of three months).
And then (as mentioned) came the miscarried twin sons. So all else being equal (i.e. the deaths of her older sister and younger brothers), this princess of Clarence most certainly would have become queen regnant -- had she lived. Indeed, on the occasion of her christening, Londoners actually jumped the gun by dubbing her "Little Queen Bess."
It's anybody's guess as to what kind of reign she would have enjoyed; but it's difficult to imagine her making a significantly different impact on British history than her Kent cousin. One should remember that by then, sovereign powers had been significantly reduced: the greatness and advanced development of the UK can more properly be attributed to the politicians and prime ministers. Victoria simply symbolized and embodied an age.
That being said, the succession of another healthy granddaughter of King George III as queen regnant would certainly have significantly altered the course of CONTINENTAL European history. If nothing else, this hypothetical Queen Elizabeth II might not have been a carrier of the hemophilic gene -- although she still could have borne a daughter who married the Prussian heir.
Of course, Victoria might still have married Albert, had she lived -- and their hemophilic-gene carrying daughters and granddaughters might still have spread the disease. Although not British princesses, they still would have been in a position to contract *equal* marriages with other royals -- as members of the House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha.
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